Valuing Travel Industry Staff

Thursday Sep 03, 2009   |   Travel Bulletin

Ahead of the Tourism Futures conference held earlier this month on the Gold Coast. the organisers released details of a Roy Morgan Research survey of the tourism industry.

The over-arching message of the research is that industry sentiment is holding up although. unsurprisingly, respondents overwhelmingly identified adverse economic circumstances as their major concern.

Some 62 per cent of them saw the global economy as the biggest challenge they face over the next 12 month with declining consumer spending worrying 32 per cent of the industry who completed the survey.

"Tourism operators have once again had a bad year yet continue to show their resilience in the face of adversity;" said Tourism Futures convenor Tony Charters.
"Despite dismal business conditions the industry appears to be maintaining its positive outlook, with some bright prospects for the future."
But the finding which most struck this observer was the outlook for employment, with 69 per cent of the industry retaining all staff over the past six months and not envisaging any sackings in the next 12 months.

This situation in the wider tourism sector reinforces anecdotal evidence from agents and wholesalers that, where possible, they are retaining staff even in situations where shedding employees would be the easy, knee-jerk response to declining revenue.
I have heard of a number of instances where proprietors have decided that the business will bear the cost of maintaining a full staff complement until the economic cycle turns up again or have negotiated reduced hours for all staff rather than let some go.
This suggests that the industry has learned the lessons of the boom times when the demand for good staff far exceeded the supply. It seems that companies now have a greater appreciation of the value of retaining such staff.

The problems of recruiting and developing staff in the not-so-distant past led to the formation of the Travel Industry Careers Association (TICA) and it is encouraging to see that body continues to flourish in the present environment.
A recent statement reviewing its past year's activities points to a slate of initiatives including the launch of a new consumer website; career education seminars for educators. industry and schoolleavers; university internship seminars; major trade show representations; research into the perception of travel as a career choice; and career workshops for students across Australia in conjunction with HRG.
Penny Spencer (Spencer Travel), who has replaced Mandy Scotney (Travel Managers) as the new chairperson of TICA, is also spearheading a new travel industry mentoring initiative under the banner of TIME (Travel Industry Mentoring Experience).